Is your gin craft or just crafty?

Craft or crafty

Gin is most definitely in again with the clear spirit at the centre of a revolution. It seems like everyone is after the next new fashionable craft gin but is your gin really craft or just crafty?

You see, not all craft or artisan gins are created equal. For all the wonderful, inventive and delicious craft gins in the UK today, there are gins that are quite simply nothing but young pretenders.

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NB Gin and NB Vodka served at Duchess of Cambridge’s £10,000-a-head charity bash

Viv and Steve Muir

NB Gin – the North Berwick-based London Dry which was voted the world’s best in 2015 – and NB Vodka – the world’s first London Dry Citrus Vodka – was served to high society at the lavish Houghton Hall last night (June 22nd).

The £10,000-a-head invitation-only bash saw 80 VIPs descend on the stately home of the Marquess and Marchioness of Cholmondeley and was in aid of the East Anglia Children’s Hospice, a charity which the Duchess of Cambridge became a patrol of in 2012.

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Why people are choosing artisan gin over big brands

NB Gin distillery Steve Muir

There’s a curious thing happening with the spirits and beer industry at the moment, and it’s been going on for quite a while now.

You probably already know what we’re talking about if you’re a regular to our NBlog. But for those who are uninitiated NB fans, we’ll tell you.

People are leaving the well-known, mass-produced big name brands to sniff out something a bit different; something like NB Gin.

Over the last few years there has been a strong shift towards anything that falls into the category of “craft”, “artisan” or even just “real”.

Those little words are the signposts for canny buyers these days and they’re becoming even more important with every passing month.

It probably really got going in the UK about five or six years ago and it was partly thanks to producers of craft beer and real ale (although those who know their crafties and ales will also know the pains producers go to to highlight they’re not the same).

There were always small pockets of fans of craft beer and quality ales and there were a few good breweries around to quench their thirst.

But, thanks to a few brave brewers who decided to put their money where their mouths were, the industry grew arms and legs and staggered into the mainstream with a burp and a giggle.

The craft beer industry is a rock ‘n roll show now and it seems like every second 30-something bloke you meet has a hankering to launch his own craft brewery.

Perhaps buoyed by the massive success of smaller, quality brewers, there were plenty foolhardy ladies and gents who wanted to try the same in the spirits world and it worked, big time.

Just look where we are today. Obviously, there’s NB Gin, but we are just one of hundreds of artisan distillers in the UK.

It should be a byword for “quality” but it isn’t always the case. You have to be careful that the word “artisan” isn’t used by producers who simply are not. We at NB Gin have another tag we can use now too: World-class. That’s not us saying that, it’s the World Drinks Awards!

Artisan, craft, real. They’re more than just words to us at NB Gin. They’re part of the manual that we use to create a drink that boasts a quality that’s hard to find anywhere else in the world.

The fantastic news for producers like NB Gin is that many, many consumers have simply had enough of drinking Spirit A or Beer B just because the massive corporation that makes it can afford the best marketing.

Not that long ago, it was only the enthusiastic foodies who might be tempted to seek out a real quality artisan gin or craft beer, but that tide has turned and it’s far more mainstream to want something of a higher quality.

Perhaps the best example of that is how supermarkets have had to completely overhaul their spirits and beer ranges. When the buying public speak, they have to listen and a walk down the aisles will show you just how far we’ve come in the quest for quality.

As for NB Gin, we’re not supermarket-mainstream and we like it that way, and that will never change so keep finding us where you do and keep enjoying us.

Bugger it, we’ll have a G&T right now. Care to join us? Chin chin!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter here and like us on Facebook here for more news, competitions and gin-fuelled fun!

Gin: From Mother’s Ruin to a Mother’s Day gift

Mother's Ruin

As Mother’s Day approaches, there’s a good chance you’ll be thinking of spoiling your fantastic mum with a bottle of gin, perhaps even a bottle of NB Gin.

But in days gone by, gin wouldn’t have been considered a gift for mummy; it was a drink that she might have sold you to pay for!

Before we alarm you anymore, we’re talking specifically about the London gin problem of the 1700s and 1800s.

The drink that we all know and love today wasn’t always quite as refined as it is now. In fact, it was once seen as a blight on the working classes that had the British Government terrified about its influence.

Perhaps you’ll be settling down this evening or at the weekend to a well-deserved gin and tonic, an event that you give due ceremony to. You probably feel rather civilised as you savour it. And so you should. If ever there were a drink to be relished then it is artisan gin.

Things were slightly different in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries though. Gin wasn’t sold in pretty bottles from a well-informed spirits store. It definitely wasn’t enjoyed in cocktails in fine bars. Nope. Gin was sold by the gallon in those days, and bought by a whole army of people who were far more interested in its alcohol content than its botanicals.

Gin was cheap and far more accessible to the working classes than wine or other spirits. It was even cheaper than beer so you can understand its appeal when you were drinking for effect and not for taste.

It was a scourge in London. The very idea that such a fashionable drink today could have been such a problem is quite hard to comprehend but it was a massive problem back then.

In the 1730s it was found that the average Londoner drank 14 gallons of gin every year. That’s more than 63 litres. Ouch.

The stories from “the gin problem” in those days make for grim reading. Parents neglected their children and women in particular were seen as particularly “susceptible to the problem” which lead to the term ‘Mother’s Ruin’ being coined.

There’s plenty evidence of workers being paid partly, and even fully, in gin and one particularly awful story tells of a drover who sold his 11-year-old daughter to a trader for a gallon of the stuff.

Something had to be done but the Government of the time was terrified of the ramifications, such was gin’s grip on society. Tighter legislation and bigger taxes didn’t have the desired effect – it simply drove the distillers underground and sparked a raging black market.

In 1830 the Duke of Wellington did something that would finally bring an end to the problem and, in turn, made beer an infinitely more popular drink. He passed the Sale of Beer Act, which removed the tax on beer and allowed anyone to open a beer shop after paying a small fee.

So, as you give your gift of gin this Mother’s Day, you can dazzle her with some trivia from a time that was far less civilised than now.

Chin chin!

For more on NB Gin, like us on Facebook here and follow us on Twitter here. 

Try the NB Gin cocktails that we’ll be serving to the stars!

Singapore-Sling

We could have served our artisan NB Gin to the stars at the BRIT Awards After Party just as it is – neat, perhaps with a little ice – and we’re pretty sure it would have gone down a storm.

But then we thought, wouldn’t it be good to give the music royalty guests some brand new cocktails to enjoy our gin in?

Our super-talented mixologist and brand ambassador TJ Littlejohn from Bar In A Box was more than happy to oblige and you lucky, lucky people can try them before Madonna, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran et al get to!

Here are the wonderful creations that TJ crafted:

B’s Knees

50ml NB Gin, 25ml Lemon, 25ml B’s Syrup

Shake all ingredients and double strain to coupe, no garnish.

B’s Syrup:

250ml Bees Honey, 125ml Hot Water, 2 Rosemary Sprigs, 5g Crushed Black Peppercorns

These ratios can be multiplied to make larger batches.

Strawberry Kiss

25ml NB Gin, 12.5ml Triple Sec, 12.5ml Strawberry Liqueur, 25ml Lemon Juice, 12.5ml Simple Syrup

Shake ingredients, fine strain to champagne flute, top with Prosecco. Half strawberry on the rim of the glass to garnish.

And now for the classics… Five vintage favourites to enjoy

Is there anything more refreshing and enjoyable than a gin at the end of a long, hard week? Of course there’s not!

At NB Gin, we think that one of the best ways to enjoy our drink is neat, perhaps with a little ice or in a mighty gin and tonic, but what about a gin cocktail?

Gin is at the epicentre of a spirits revolution in the UK and gin cocktails are once again firmly in the minds of our country’s great mixologists.

Sometimes, there’s no substitute for a classic, so the next time you’re planning on enjoying NB’s artisan London Dry Gin, why not whip up one of these classic gin cocktails?

Gin Fizz

The Gin Fizz has seen something of a revival and why not, it’s simply stunning and can be enjoyed all year round.

Try it with 2oz of NB Gin in a shaker with a good dash of fresh lemon juice, say 1oz. Add around .75oz of simple syrup (one part sugar to one part water) and shake it well for 10 seconds. Add some ice cubes and shake like your life depends on it. Add the club soda to a glass and strain the remaining ingredients in. Yum!

Martini

Perhaps the G&T would be even more iconic than this one, but even that cannot boast Mr James Bond as a fan.

A well-made Martini is something sent right from heaven and it couldn’t be simpler. Gin and Vermouth and that’s it. The only topic for dispute on this one is the ratios but really, it should be down to personal preference.

Mix 2 ½ oz of NB Gin with about half that amount of Vermouth with plenty of ice and stir (if you are 007 you’ll want to shake of course). To garnish, go with a twist of lemon peel.

Singapore Sling

Most cocktail aficionados are well versed in the story of the Singapore Sling coming to being at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore in the 1900s. We love it!

Pour 1 ½ oz of gin, 1oz of lime juice and ¼ oz of simple syrup into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and give it a damn good shake. Strain the inviting mix into a highball glass with ice cubes and then lovingly add 2oz of club soda.

Float ½ oz of cherry brandy on top by pouring it over the back of a spoon.

If you want to get really fancy, garnish with a lemon slice and cherry.

Negroni

Who would have thought that the vintage Negroni would be popular once again? It’s a good thing though, because it’s a delicious cocktail! Our London Dry Gin is just perfect for this one too.

The key to a good Negroni is to use the ingredients in equal measures.

To try for the first time, try 1oz of each. Add some ice to a short glass, add 1oz of NB Gin, 1oz of Campari and 1oz of Vermouth, give it a quick spin with a spoon, add a slice of orange and serve to a no-doubt very appreciate friend… remember to make yourself one too though.

Tom Collins

Okay, so it’s still bitterly cold out there and you’d probably enjoy this old favourite in the summer but, go on, be a bit cheeky and enjoy it now anyway.

It’s easy peasy. Pour 1 ½ oz of NB Gin, 1oz of lemon juice and a simple syrup into a Collins glass, if you have one, which you’ve already added ice to. Give it a whirl with a spoon or a straw and top it off with club soda. For the garnish, add an extra splash of colour with a cherry and a slice of orange.

What’s your favourite NB Gin cocktail? We’d love to hear from you! Have you made your very own NB Gin cocktail? We’d love to see it!

The kink that makes NB Gin perfect, in an imperfect kind of way

NB Gin waitresses

Would you rather be perfect or unique? For NB Gin, those two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In fact, we like to say that we are unique in our own perfection.

Not many would consider a kink to be perfect. It’s usually the result of a mistake; of a heavy hand or an unfortunate collision but the kink that we are talking about is now integral to the gin we produce. You could say it’s engrained in what we do.

When the copperhead still was being lovingly put together, we ended up with a kink in one of the pipes. Others would fix that sort of thing right away but when NB Gin was first crafted in that still, the result far exceeded what even our high expectations were. Why would we want to change that?

You see, fads come and go in a flash, especially when it comes to drinks, but quality will always endure.

We’re most definitely at the centre of a gin revolution, as many of our fans will tell you, and we’re definitely not stuck in our ways but there are some things you simply don’t change. That kink would probably drive neat freaks to distraction but to us – in a weird kind of way – it’s as an integral to our artisan gin as the eight botanicals that go into NB.

All this talk about kinks and imperfections might make you think that we are nonchalant about how we produce our gin but that could not be further from the truth. We spent countless hours in the early days making sure absolutely everything that went into NB Gin was as perfect as it could be and, believe us, that commitment has not changed since those formative distilling days.

Our master distiller would never compromise on anything. You could call him a hard task master distiller… but we would never say that.

It goes back to that word, perfection, again. For him anything less than perfect just will not do. It’s that simple.

Okay, so practically every fine drinks producer might wax lyrical about quality and perfection but to many of them, they’re just words. They’re part of a marketing operation to sell more units. Talk to our master distiller about marketing and watch his reaction. He doesn’t have time for that – there’s another batch of NB Gin reaching a crucial stage in the distilling process!

Long before we thought of telling the world about our drink, we tested, we trialled, we plagued friends to sample our product. Only once we were absolutely sure that the artisan gin we had produced was of a quality that could rival the best gins in the world, then we cast a fleeting glance at the market. Not the distiller though, his focus is only ever on that still, with its little kink.

 

All this talk of kinked pipes might lead you to think we’ve spent too long tucked away in the distillery. Maybe we have, but give NB Gin a try and you’ll probably understand why we’re so keen to keep our process consistent. Like we said, we’re unique in our own perfection… or imperfection.

Visit our website for more information or to contact us. Chin chin!